Three ways to look at the United States’ relationship with cannabis

The Fourth of July is a celebration of all things red, white and blue. When it comes to green, however, the United States of America doesn’t have too much to celebrate. Our country’s relationship with cannabis has been fraught and frustrating, even now as legalization spreads and past wrongs are starting to be righted. This long weekend is a perfect time to take a dive into the contentious, complicated history of cannabis in the United States.


Cartoonist and writer Box Brown’s 2019 graphic novel, Cannabis: The Illegalization of Weed in America, takes a look at the history of cannabis in the Americas. Brown takes readers through hundreds of years, from the plant’s first arrival in the New World in the 1500s to the often outright racist regulations of the drug in the 20th century. Over 256 pages, simple but bulky characters, reminiscent of old newspaper comic strips, illustrate the stories written on the page.

Versions of the book are available in hardcover and for e-readers.


If you’re looking for something a little lighter, perhaps spend an evening watching a film widely considered to be among the very worst ever made: Reefer Madness, the infamous 1936 propaganda film on the perils — highly exaggerated — of cannabis consumption. Whether it’s factual information about cannabis or an attempt to make a quality film, Reefer Madness gets just about everything wrong, but that’s what makes it fun. It is more than just a film to laugh at as you watch, though. Perhaps the only thing it does well is to shine a light on the absurdism of the moral panic that once surrounded cannabis and cannabis users.

Reefer Madness is in the public domain and available free, in full, on websites like YouTube and Wikipedia.


Journalist Ann Marie Awad worked with Colorado Public Radio and PRX to create three seasons and 30 episodes of On Something, a podcast exploring life and society after legalization. Awad explores how cannabis connects to all aspects of American culture, from minority communities to celebrities to the pharmaceutical industry and beyond. On Something leads listeners through stories that show there’s a lot more to legalization than dispensaries being opened and joints being sparked. Like its pre-legalization history, the post-legalization landscape of cannabis in America is complex and convoluted.

On Something is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and others. ♦

Article Source: Inlander